Port Allen bar owners say they are feeling the heat since East Baton Rouge Parish relaxed its blue laws last month.
On Weds. Oct. 24, the EBR Parish Metro Council voted to allow bars in EBR to open on Sundays and stay open until midnight.
On Tues. Oct. 30, EBR Parish Mayor-President Kip Holden signed the new alcohol ordinance into law, allowing bars in EBR to open that Sunday, Nov. 4.
Wilson Battley, owner of Ryderz Sports Bar in Port Allen, told the Port Allen City Council last week in committee meeting that his net sales dropped by nearly two-thirds on Sun. Nov. 4, according to a copy of his Sunday sales receipts.
The Sunday before that, on Oct. 28, his sales were less than a third of his average because, he said, people “didn’t want to miss the Saints game.”
“Nobody’s going to want to come to Port Allen now and have to be gone by 10 o’clock,” Battley said.
“Sunday is our main day of business.”
He and fellow bar owner Manuel Perkins of Roadrunner Bar & Lounge in Port Allen asked that the Port Allen City Council extend bar hours in Port Allen to that of EBR Parish – midnight on Sundays.
“Just to be competitive,” Battley said.
Since the people of Port Allen voted in October of last year to ratify the city’s Sunday bar hours, City Attorney Victor Woods said any changes to those hours would again require the vote of the people.
Woods said the earliest the measure could go on a ballot would be in April.
“I don’t think it can wait another Sunday,” Battley said. “Because once people get established to going somewhere else, and they’re comfortable there, then you’re going to be fighting to get them back.”
He said he would continue to lose money to EBR and the city of Port Allen would lose sales tax revenue, as well.
Battley said he had no problem with the 10 o’clock cutoff before, “but now it’s something totally different.”
Port Allen Police Chief Ken Bates said if every other bar in the parish closes at 10 on Sundays and Port Allen bars were to close at midnight, “that’s going to bring an influx of a whole lot more people, and when that influx comes in it’s going to return to a situation.”
Battley’s bar, Ryderz Sports Bar, was formerly called Club MVP. In October of last year, prior to the vote of the people, it was reported that a shooting occurred outside Club MVP just before midnight on a Sunday.
Battley has adamantly denied that shooting occurred outside his bar but down the street at the fruit stand on N. Alexander Avenue, saying he has video surveillance to prove it.
Councilor Irvrie Johnson said any complaints in the past were the result of “the migration from East Baton Rouge to West Baton Rouge” and “negative things coming over to the city.”
Johnson said the council would look into what can be done “through research according to the law” to extend Sunday bar hours in the city.
“We appreciate your concern,” he said. “Matter of fact we all are concerned for the business [in Port Allen].”